Broad bean growing in a polytunnel

Broad bean growing in a polytunnel

Broad bean is one of the oldest crops. It began to reach old civilizations, when agriculture started to develop. Crops from this vegetable contain many valuable nutrients and vitamins. Broad bean is rich in vegetable protein, fiber, phosphorus, calcium, iron and a large number of vitamins A, C and a lot of B. As a valuable culinary ingredient, it is found in many dishes representing cooking from around the world. This versatility allows you to use it as an ingredient or as a main dish.

Characteristics of broad bean

Broad bean is a leguminous, perennial plant belonging to the fabaceae family. It produces thick and stiff stems that sometimes reach up to 120 cm. Rhizobia are formed on the long roots supporting many branches. This makes it even more attractive for cultivation. This vegetable is indeed able to bind nitrogen from the air, meaning it does not need additional fertilization. Throughout the growing season, broad bean feeds the soil with nitrogen. That is why it is a very efficient and often used fore crop for the main culture.

As a green fertilizer, it is an indispensable component for natural nitrogen soil enrichment and because nitrogen use is limited in organic farming , broad been is the best ways to enrich the soil naturally.

Green leafs of oval shape grow on the stems of the bean, connected by a rigid end. Butterfly-shaped flowers that appear during growth are grouped together. The fruit of the bean is a pod growing up to 12 cm, increasingly dangling down as development continues . Inside the pods, in a spongy and soft tissue. There are 2 to 5 bright yellow or light green seeds, with a kidney, oval or round shape and a size of up to 40 mm.

Growing conditions for broad bean

As already mentioned, bean farming is not much of a problem. However, the plant has high requirements concerning soil and hydration. It can grow directly in the soil inside the polytunnel, provided the ground is damp and fertile .  It grows well on fertile soil, and you can be optimistic about growth in peat or black soil.

Also grows more efficiently on lighter substrates, but more frequent irrigation is needed. Soil composition should be slightly acidic and the pH should oscillate between 6.3 and 7.0.

The favorable temperature inside the greenhouse, optimal for development of beans, should be maintained at 18 to 22 ° C. The whole growing period lasts from 80 to 120 days, and its length depends on the cultivation methods used, weather conditions, care and variety.

  • Cultivation under cover

When it comes to resistance to climatic conditions, bean is a tough vegetable. It is planted in the first half of March in a foil tunnel, in early May in open field. The seedlings, although they can withstand temperatures up to -4 ° C. Should receive the best conditions for development and a foil cover as soon as possible – they will then ripen and produce a good yield. Delaying sowing towards the end of May because of low temperatures may results in yields being cut by half.

Seedlings will develop with a temperature between 3 ° C and 17 ° C. During this stage of growth, the most important for the plant is constant access to water. Care must be taken to ensure that soil temperature is not too low, so water does not turn into ice. In freezing conditions, it is important not to water the seedlings because that would expose them to cold bites.

  • Sowing broad bean in tunnels

For hobby cultivation, sow 2 to 6 seeds every 20 or 40 cm. When planting the full area in a foil tunnel. lay out broad bean in rows, sowing every 40 or 60 cm, while keeping a space between plants (10 – 15 cm). Seeds are placed at a depth of 6 to 12 cm, depending on seed size. The distance kept between each bean is important as growing plants will be quite high, and if the distance between them is optimal. They will support each other, limiting them falling over.

  • Broad bean from seedlings

Growing bean from seedling increases yield and speeds up harvesting by up to 25 days. Soak seeds for 24 hours in water, then sow into pots or multi-trays. The filled containers are kept warm. The whole process starts at the beginning of February and following germination, they are introduced into the greenhouse. Remember to fortify seedlings a few days before moving them to a permanent place, limiting watering and lowering the temperature.

  • Rotating cultivation site for broad beans

It is a plant that does not require any change, it can develop in the same position for the next few years. It is important not to sow it after other leguminous plants , as it would increase the chance of infection and pathogens and pests. However, if a grower wants to plant and get a good crop, it is necessary to associate bean according to the following rules:

The bean’s  high requirements means it is best associated with low nutrient requirements plants.

It is a fabaceae also referred to as fava bean. As with any other rotation, it is not planted in an area where vegetables from the same family have previously grown.

Broad bean creates an extensive root system, which sometimes reaches even one meter. It should be planted in a location where other plants have a shallow root system.

Fertilization of broad beans

It is very important to enrich broad beans as it is easy to fertilize. They will grow well in the second and third year after fertilization with manure. Among the recommended ways to enrich soil, horse and sheep manure or a mixture can be used. Sowing on freshly fertilized soil can result in the production of a germ. A very dangerous pest that damages emerging plants. As the bean binds nitrogen from the air, fertilization can be limited. If necessary, it is introduced (ammonium nitrate or granular urea) into the substrate before sowing. Phosphorus and potassium are applied in autumn. Quantities per 1 ha are: 40-50 kg N, 60-80 kg P2O5, 120-160 kg K2O and 20-25 kg MgO.

  • Care of broad beans

This is a plant that should be systematically watered and regularly monitored for soil moisture. After irrigation, in order to root properly, it is worth loosening the soil. The area should be systematically weeded, however, to reduce labour, agro textile can be laid in the polytunnel.
After a few pods have developed. A few stems are cut to speed up the formation of seeds, and to avoid aphids. The bean is trimmed at 2-4 cm, straight, with a sharp tool in such a way that the cut is as small as possible. The treatment will be carried out on a dry, sunny day to reduce the chance of developing fungal diseases.

Harvest and storage

Harvest is carried out from June to August with ripening pods. When the seeds, large, firm and green,  are noticeable through the skin , it means they are ready. If they have a black coloration, it is a sign that they are past their best. Full maturity should be achieved in July. In warm summers, harvest is done once, while in cold and humid conditions , it is carried out several times.

Long storage of bean is possible only in pods, fruits alone get black much faster and are not suitable for consumption. If frozen, they can be stored without restriction.
When cultivating for seeds, these are collected when they are overripe and have a black color. As a rule, September is the right time.

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